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July 18, 2004

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reg

Opps! Ombudsman Getler has his own big fat whopper. He's wrong, in part, when he writes:

Wilson takes issue with Schmidt's reporting that his report on the trip to Niger "bolstered the case" about purported uranium sales to Iraq. But the study concludes that Wilson's March 2002 report, which noted that the former prime minister of Niger said that in 1999 he was approached by a businessman insisting he meet with an Iraqi delegation (which he did not do), "lent more credibility to the original CIA reports on the uranium deal."(Getler, WaPo, 7/18/2004).


Here’s what the Senate Intelligence Report actually said:

Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [DELETED]… businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted “expanding commercial relations” to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that “ALTHOUGH THE MEETING TOOK PLACE [emphasis mine], Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq.”(Senate Intelligence Report, page 43, last para).

Furthermore, the Senate report says, "The former ambassador [Wilson] said that Mayaki did meet with the Iraqi delegation but never discussed what was meant by “expanding commercial relations." (Senate Intelligence report, page 44, para U).


The Kid

Wrongo, reg. When Getler wrote "lent more credibility to the original CIA reports on the uranium deal" he was accurately paraphrasing the report page 71:

Conclusion 13. The report on the former ambassador's trip to Niger, disseminated in March 2002, did not change any analysts' assessments of the Iraq-Niger uranium deal. For most analysts, the information in the report lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal, but State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) analysts believed that the report supported their assessment that Niger was unlikely to be willing or able to sell uranium to Iraq.

reg

Umm, TK your reply doesn’t seem to contradict or have any relevance to my post or the fact in dispute. I think you just misread my post,

Did Mayaki actually meet with the Iraqi delegation? Getler says he did not. The Senate report and Wilson say he did.

I say Getler’s wrong. To make that clear I used upper case when quoting the Senate report where the report specifically contradicts Getler (ie “ALTHOUGH THE MEETING TOOK PLACE [emphasis mine] Mayaki let the matter drop due …” Senate report page 43).

The Kid

Righto, reg!
My bad, per the report and contrary to the (which he did not do), the report states in several places that the meeting did occur. One example is on page 42:
In an interview with Committee staff, the former ambassador was able to provide more information about the meeting between former Prime Minister Mayaki and the Iraqi delegation. The former ambassador said that Mayaki did meet with the Iraqi delegation but never discussed what was meant by "expanding commercial relations." The former ambassador said that because Mayaki was wary of discussing any trade issues with a country under United Nations (UN) sanctions, he made a successful effort to steer the conversation away from a discussion of trade with the Iraqi delegation.

I was focusing what I thought Getler’s main point was, that “For most analysts, the information in the report lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal…”

I’ll try to be more careful.

IceCold

Reporter: Did you have access to the British assessment cited in the State of the Union?

Amb. Wilson: No.

Reporter: So you don't know its details, its sourcing, or even which countries to which it pertains?

Amb. Wilson: No.

Reporter: Did the US intelligence community give you access to their full information and analysis on any African uranium deals or interactions with Iraq by Niger or any other African country?

Amb. Wilson: No.

Reporter: And you couldn't have been relying on such classified information anyway in your op-ed for the Times, because you wouldn't be permitted to reveal such information, right?

Amb. Wilson: That's right.

Reporter: How many currently producing or potential uranium sources are there in Africa? How many have had contacts with Iraq?

Amb. Wilson: I don't know.

Reporter: How many African uranium-producing countries did you visit on behalf of US intelligence?

Amb. Wilson: Just one, Niger.

Reporter: So your Times op-ed alleges manipulation of intelligence as reflected in the State of the Union address, but you've no particular knowledge of the British assessment cited in that address, don't know which countries it concerned or on what information it was based, you visited only one African uranium-producing country out of several, and don't have access to the full US information and assessments on the same topics, to include the Niger situation.

Amb. Wilson: Uh .... well ....

(an imagined interview with a journalist displaying even rudimentary logical reasoning ability, and some knowledge of the topic, on July 7, 2003 ..... of course it would only get worse for Wilson in follow-up interviews, as the Brits stood by their report, informed the world it had no basis in any forged documents, and the assessment was found reasonable by parliamentary committees ..... oddly enough, this interview and the even tougher follow-ups NEVER occurred .... I believe this is the point as which a frequent commenter here asks "can I start banging my head against the wall now?")

TM

Reporter: How many currently producing or potential uranium sources are there in Africa? How many have had contacts with Iraq?

Amb. Wilson: I don't know.

I am in total thematic agreement with you. However, I have read interviews where Wilson expounds on the four African countries that export uranium.

But how did Wilson's op-ed get the title "What I Didn't Find in Africa"?

The MAD magazine version - What I Didn't Find in Africa - Because I Only Looked In Niger.

IceCold

OK, amend Wilson's answer to "Four, and I don't know". Glad to hear Wilson can Google and spend 15 minutes on the web (just kidding, but that's all it takes to be able to expound thusly -- and did he include Somalia?).

I'll stop. But since the day his op-ed appeared I've been waiting for anyone to ask him an intelligent pertinent question revealing that he was in no position to even comment in an interesting way on the British report, much less accuse the WH of manipulation or dishonesty. Even bloggers never seemed to focus on the substance of the matter -- too many secondary goats to rope. Mendacious or not, his wife involved or nefariously "outed" or not, whatever the verb chosen by WH speech-writers for the Sixteen Words -- Wilson was (obviously) never in a position to make the charges he made.

TM

On the subjectof getler's "big fat whopper", (and if that is a whopper, how do we explain obesity in America?), I will wager as much as fifty cents that he was betrayed by his own red pencil.

My gues is that he originally wrote something like "in 1999 he was approached by a businessman insisting he meet with an Iraqi delegation **to discuss uranium purchases** (which he did not do)..."

and then, in the editing process, lost his thread.

Since it doesn't change the point, so what?

Cecil Turner

Wilson is forcing a reassessment of his credibility (and may have redeemed himself) with this brilliantly PC bit of illogic: "Yes, I am male, I'm over 50. By definition, I can misspeak."

If he actually believes the definition of misspeaking is dependent on gender and age, he may not be a liar after all . . . just very confused.

Paul Zrimsek

I'm baffled by the age-and-sex reference as well, but I'm guessing that what he meant is that he's slowing down a bit with age, and now is merely ALMOST infallible.

Alternative hypothesis: now that his gig with a prospective Kerry administration looks unlikely, he's angling for Bob Dole's job.

Reg

Re: Big Fat Whooper?

Sweat the details, TM.
It's all I'm say'in.


TM

Ok, is it a detail, or is it a Big Fat Whopper?

That's all I'm askin'.

TM

Ok, is it a detail, or is it a Big Fat Whopper?

That's all I'm askin'.

The Kid

Ooops! Sorry, back to “Wrongo, reg.”

WaPo Ombudsman Getler was correct – the meeting did not occur.

See this 7/14/04 BBC report which says: Ibrahim Mayaki told the BBC that no Iraqi delegation went to Niger while he was foreign minister or prime minister.

With a date of 7/14 - Wednesday - Getler could easily have seen this before the Sunday edition was put to bed.

Gotta watch them details. No Big Fat Whopper here, not even a happy meal.

Your turn to apologize to Tom.

Reg

TK, my correction was directed at Getler not Tom.
If I'm wrong then Getler is owed the apology-- a big fat one-- not Tom.

Happily, I don't think I'm wrong. Though the BBC report adds an interesting twist to my original comment on Getler's article.

What started as a critique of "alleged" sloppiness in Getler's critique (which IMHO TM was a big fat whooper from an ombudsman) has now turned into something else. That "something" is my next post.


Reg

Wilson’s Reported Iraqi/Niger Meeting that “Was”, “Was Not”, and Now “Was”—Again!

I believe Joe Wilson--really, The question is not “if” it’s “when” you believe him.

Consider the alleged “meeting” between an Iraqi official and former Niger Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki in Algiers during the Organization of African Unity (OAU) conference in June 1999. (Obscure enough for you?) Questions have arisen here and elsewhere about this issue. So I decided to take a fresh look.

Has Wilson lied about this issue? I’ll be charitable and say probably not. But it’s a close call. I suspect Wilson-- if asked-- would say it depends on what the meaning of the word “meeting”. Is it a formal meeting between official delegations or an informal meeting between government officials? Did Wilson spin and was he misleading? You bet.

Here’s a quick chronology (note: I’ve added that which is in brackets[ ]):


1. March 5, 2002 Wilson is Debriefed Just After Returning From Niger (SSCI, p.43-44)
Wilson tells two CIA officers according to their report that Mayaki met with the Iraqi Delegation in June 1999.

2. July 6, 2003: “What I Didn’t Find In Africa” Wilson’s NY Times Op/ed:
No mention of the previously alleged meeting in the NYT op/ed or in his first “Meet the Press” interview that same day.

3. July 11, 2003: DCI Tenet Releases a Statement on Niger Controversy/Wilson’s Trip:
First (?) public mention of the alleged June 1999 Iraqi/Niger meeting.

4. September 16, 2003: Talking Points Memo Interviews Joe Wilson (page 16-17)
Wilson says his interlocutor [Mayaki] “declined” to take the 1999 Iraqi meeting in question.

5. October 5, 2003: Wilson Appears on “Meet the Press”—Again! (MSNBC, transcript)
Wilson’s asked about Tenet’s July 11 statement. Wilson responds, “the meeting never took place..”

6. January, 2004: Wilson Speaks Again to His Source [Mayaki] (“The Politics of Truth” p.28)
Source [Mayaki] tells Wilson that “Baghdad Bob” was probably the Iraqi he [Mayaki] met at the OAU meeting in 1999.

7. May 2, 2004: Wilson Appears on “Meet the Press” Yet Again. (MSNBC, transcript)
Wilson: “That’s right…there was a meeting...between a senior Niger official and an Iraqi official”

8. July 7, 2004: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report Is Publicly Released
Report States: [Wilson] said that Mayaki did meet with the Iraqi delegation but never discussed what was meant by “expanding commercial relations." (Senate Intelligence report, page 44).

9. July 14, 2004: BBC Report “Ex-premier [Mayaki] denies Iraq link” *(See below)
BBC interviews Niger’s ex-prime minister Mayaki. The BBC reports that Ibrahim Mayaki said the following:
A) Iraq did not try to buy uranium
B) No Iraqi delegation went to Niger while he was foreign or prime minister.
C) Mayaki denies allegations in the Senate report that he admitted meeting a delegation from Iraq in 1999.
D) Mayaki now says he has no recollection of such a meeting [as described in the Senate Report], while he was in government from 1999-2001.

10 July18, 2004: WaPo Ombudsman Response to Wilson’s Critique of the Post:
“But the [Senate] study concludes that Wilson's March 2002 report, which noted that the former prime minister of Niger said that in 1999 he was approached by a businessman insisting he meet with an Iraqi delegation (which he did not do)…” (Getler, WaPo, 7/18/2004)


*Note: On item #9 the 7/14/2004 Mayaki Interview as Reported by the BBC:
Allegation A may be correct. Certainly “expanding commercial relations” has just enough plausible deniability to deny uranium as Iraq’s goal.
Allegation B is false. Iraq’s Vatican ambassador visited Niger on 2/8/1999 as an envoy of the then President of Iraq to Mr. Ibrahim Bare, the then President of Niger. At the time Mayaki was Niger’s Prime Minister. Allegation C is probably false. Is he hanging on the word “delegation” as opposed to meeting an Iraqi official in June 1999? If not, and he’s telling the truth then Wilson’s the liar. Allegation D is probably false and is certainly highly deceptive--or was Wilson highly deceptive?.Did Wilson make up his January 2004 conversation with Mayaki as he reports in his book? Simply stated, I trust Wilson under oath more than I trust a BBC report of a former Nigerian official not under oath.

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